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A Comparative Theology for the Democracy of Creation
We live in an increasingly global, interconnected, and interdependent world, in which various forms of systemic imbalance in power have given birth to a growing demand for genuine pluralism and democracy. As befits a world so interconnected, this book presents a comparative theological and philosophical attempt to construct new underpinnings for the idea of democracy by bringing the Western concept of spirit into dialogue with the East Asian nondualistic and nonhierarchical notion of qi. The book follows the historical adventures of the idea of qi through some of its Confucian and Daoist textual histories in East Asia, mainly Laozi, Zhu Xi, Toegye, Nongmun, and Su-un, and compares them with analogous conceptualizations of the ultimate creative and spiritual power found in the intellectual constellations of Western and/or Christian thought namely, Whitehead's Creativity, Hegel's Geist, Deleuze's chaosmos, and Catherine Keller's Tehom. The book adds to the growing body of pneumatocentric (Spirit-centered), panentheistic Christian theologies that emphasize God's liberating, equalizing, and pluralizing immanence in the cosmos. Furthermore, it injects into the theological and philosophical dialogue between the West and Confucian and Daoist East Asia, which has heretofore been dominated by the American pragmatist and process traditions, a fresh voice shaped by Hegelian, postmodern, and postcolonial thought. This enriches the ways in which the pluralistic and democratic implications of the notion of qi may be articulated. In addition, by offering a valuable introduction to some representative Korean thinkers who are largely unknown to Western scholars, the book advances the study of East Asia and Neo-Confucianism in particular. Last but not least, the book provides a model of Asian contextual theology that draws on the religious and philosophical resources of East Asia to offer a vision of pluralism and democracy. A reader interested in the conversation between the East and West in light of the global reality of political oppression, economic exploitation, and cultural marginalization will find this book informative, engaging, and enlightening
Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion
A complex body of religious practices that spread throughout the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions; a form of spirituality that seemingly combines sexuality, sensual pleasure, and the full range of physical experience with the religious life—Tantra has held a central yet conflicted role within the Western imagination ever since the first "discovery" of Indian religions by European scholars. Always radical, always extremely Other, Tantra has proven a key factor in the imagining of India. This book offers a critical account of how the phenomenon has come to be.
Tracing the complex genealogy of Tantra as a category within the history of religions, Hugh B. Urban reveals how it has been formed through the interplay of popular and scholarly imaginations. Tantra emerges as a product of mirroring and misrepresentation at work between East and West--a dialectical category born out of the ongoing play between Western and Indian minds. Combining historical detail, textual analysis, popular cultural phenomena, and critical theory, this book shows Tantra as a shifting amalgam of fantasies, fears, and wish-fulfillment, at once native and Other, that strikes at the very heart of our constructions of the exotic Orient and the contemporary West.
A Rhetorical Analysis (NAPS Patristic Monograph Series, Volume 19)
Geoffrey D. Dunn is the first scholar to use classical rhetoric as the interpretative tool for analyzing the question of the authorship of Aduersus Iudaeos. He argues that Tertullian structured this work according to the rules of classical rhetoric and employed arguments familiar to anyone with training in oratory
Essays in Honour of Peter Richardson
Can archaeological remains be made to “speak” when brought into conjunction with texts? Can written remains, on stone or papyrus, shed light on the parables of Jesus, or on the Jewish view of afterlife? What are the limits to the use of artifactual data, and when is the value overstated? Text and Artifact addresses the complex and intriguing issue of how primary religious texts from the ancient Mediterranean world are illuminated by, and in turn illuminate, the ever-increasing amount of artifactual evidence available from the surrounding world.
The book honours Peter Richardson, and the first two chapters offer appreciations of this scholarship and teaching. The remaining chapters focus on early Christianity, late-antique Judaism and topics germane to the Roman world at large. Many of the essays relate to features of Jewish life — the epigraphic evidence for gentile converts to Judaism or for Jewish defectors, ancient accounts of the Essenes or of the siege of Masada, and the material context of the first great rabbinic work, the Mishnah. Other essays connect early Christian texts with the social and cultural realia of their day — modes of travel, notions of gender, patronage and benefaction, the relation of tenants and owners — or reflect on the aesthetics of Christian architecture and the relation between building and ritual in Constantinian churches. One study relates the writing of the famous novelist Apuleius to a household mithraeum in Ostia, while another explores the changing appropriation of religious realia as the Roman world became Christian.
These wide-ranging and original studies demonstrate clearly that texts and artifacts can be mutually supportive. Equally, they point to ways in which artifacts, no less than texts, are inherently ambiguous and teach us to be cautious in our conclusions.
Imagination in Medieval Islamic and Jewish Thought
The Texture of the Divine explores the central role of the imagination in the shared symbolic worlds of medieval Islam and Judaism. Aaron W. Hughes looks closely at three interrelated texts known as the Hayy ibn Yaqzan cycle (dating roughly from 1000--1200 CE) to reveal the interconnections not only between Muslims and Jews, but also between philosophy, mysticism, and literature. Each of the texts is an initiatory tale, recounting a journey through the ascending layers of the universe. These narratives culminate in the imaginative apprehension of God, in which the traveler gazes into the divine presence. The tales are beautiful and poetic literary works as well as probing philosophical treatises on how the individual can know the unknowable. In this groundbreaking work, Hughes reveals the literary, initiatory, ritualistic, and mystical dimensions of medieval Neoplatonism. The Texture of the Divine also includes the first complete English translation of Abraham Ibn Ezra's Hay ben Meqitz.
New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon
Historically, religious scriptures are defined as holy texts that are considered to be beyond the abilities of the layperson to interpret. Their content is most frequently analyzed by clerics who do not question the underlying political or social implications of the text, but use the writing to convey messages to their congregations about how to live a holy existence. In Western society, moreover, what counts as scripture is generally confined to the Judeo-Christian Bible, leaving the voices of minorities, as well as the holy texts of faiths from Africa and Asia, for example, unheard.
In this innovative collection of essays that aims to turn the traditional bible-study definition of scriptures on its head, Vincent L. Wimbush leads an in-depth look at the social, cultural, and racial meanings invested in these texts. Contributors hail from a wide array of academic fields and geographic locations and include such noted academics as Susan Harding, Elisabeth Shüssler Fiorenza, and William L. Andrews.
Purposefully transgressing disciplinary boundaries, this ambitious book opens the door to different interpretations and critical orientations, and in doing so, allows an ultimately humanist definition of scriptures to emerge.
Religion and the Question of Materiality
That relation has long been conceived in antagonistic terms, privileging spirit above matter, belief above ritual and objects, meaning above form, and "inward" contemplation above "outward" action. After all, wasn't the opposition between spirituality and materiality the defining characteristic of religion, understood as geared to a transcendental beyond that was immaterial by definition? Grounded in the rise of religion as a modern category, with Protestantism as its main exponent, this conceptualization devalues religious things as lacking serious empirical, let alone theoretical, interest. The resurgence of public religion in our time has exposed the limitations of this attitude.Taking materiality seriously, this volume uses as a starting point the insight that religion necessarily requires some kind of incarnation, through which the beyond to which it refers becomes accessible. Conjoining rather than separating spirit and matter, incarnation (whether understood as "the world becoming flesh" or in a broader sense) places at center stage the question of how the realm of the transcendental, spiritual, or invisible is rendered tangible in the world.How do things matter in religious discourse and practice? How are we to account for the value or devaluation, the appraisal or contestation, of things within particular religious perspectives? How are we to rematerialize our scholarly approaches to religion? These are the key questions addressed by this multidisciplinary volume. Focusing on different kinds of things that matter for religion, including sacred artifacts, images, bodily fluids, sites, and electronic media, it offers a wide-ranging set of multidisciplinary studies that combine detailed analysis and critical reflection.
Transfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline
What does theology have to say about the place of eroticism in the salvific transformation of men and women, even of the cosmos itself? How, in turn, does eros infuse theological practice and transfigure doctrinal tropes? Avoiding the well-worn path of sexual moralizing while also departing decisively from Anders Nygren's influential insistence that Christian agape must have nothing to do with worldly eros, this book explores what is still largely uncharted territory in the realm of theological erotics. The ascetic, the mystical, the seductive, the ecstatic-these are the places where the divine and the erotic may be seen to converge and love and desire to commingle.Inviting and performing a mutual seduction of disciplines, the volume brings philosophers, historians, biblical scholars, and theologians into a spirited conversation that traverses the limits of conventional orthodoxies, whether doctrinal or disciplinary. It seeks new openings for the emergence of desire, love, and pleasure, while challenging common understandings of these terms. It engages risk at the point where the hope for salvation paradoxically endangers the safety of subjects-in particular, of theological subjects-by opening them to those transgressions of eros in which boundaries, once exceeded, become places of emerging possibility.The eighteen chapters, arranged in thematic clusters, move fluidly among and between premodern and postmodern textual traditions-from Plato to Emerson, Augustine to Kristeva, Mechthild to Mattoso, the Shulammite to Molly Bloom, the Zohar to the Da Vinci Code. In so doing, they link the sublime reaches of theory with the gritty realities of politics, the boundless transcendence of God with the poignant transience of materiality.
Christian and Muslim Perspectives
Tradition and Modernity focuses on how Christians and Muslims connect their traditions to modernity, looking especially at understandings of history, changing patterns of authority, and approaches to freedom. The volume includes a selection of relevant texts from 19th- and 20th-century thinkers, from John Henry Newman to Tariq Ramadan, accompanied by illuminating commentaries.
as the owl remarked to the rabbit
This book is about the surprise of the wisdom revealed by the familiar and unfamiliar animals. Since the verbal expression attributed to them is that of their interpreter O.O.O., there is nothingunnatural or mysterious about what they are given to say.